The Soylent Challenge: 30 Days Without Food – Week 2

I'm going 30 days ingesting nothing but Soylent. Watch me become the most efficient man on Earth.

August 19, 2015

I just finished week two of the Soylent Challenge. I have not ingested anything other than some booze, water, and this bland, gritty, wannabe protein shake known as Soylent. The first seven days have been harder than I could have ever imagined. This week started looking up. At the end of the month I’ll do one long post documenting the entire experience, but right now I’ll tell you about the second week.

Read past episodes (will open in a new tab):
Intro, Week 1

Day 8

After yesterday’s sufferfest, today was not too bad. It went by really fast.

Jess and I went to church with some friends in Memphis, and edited video the rest of the day.

I had all my “meals” with lots of ice today. That, paired with a lack of gourmet wedding food in front of my face, made today much easier than yesterday. I am curious to see how this week pans out since I’m more settled into a routine and not exposing myself to home-cooked goodness.

Day 9

My old (as in ‘previous’ — not ‘physically’) high school cross country coach puts together an alumni versus current team race every Fall before school starts.

After a focused, productive work day, I decided to partake in this race. The race location was about 9.5 miles away. I decided this would be a good warm-up distance and ran there.

I left my house at 4 p.m. to cover nearly 10 miles to reach the location of the race. Tennessee’s hot summer humidity made it tough, but once there, I took the line for the 2.5-mile competition. I was lucky to pull off the win in spite of racing a solid group of individuals.

The pace was a little below average for me (5:30 for the first mile and 5:15-5:20 for the remainder), but it was good to see my body doing a good amount of physical activity without a total blackout or collapse.

Day 11

I’ve settled into a consistent rhythm. Since the weekend, I have not been enticed with mouthwatering food, and I am staying distracted with work and other errands involving getting our new house set up and such.

I didn’t think I’d come to this, but this experiment (not eating food for 30 days) has actually been extremely convenient at times. I make my day’s Soylent batch in the morning, set it in the fridge, and forget about it until I feel low on fuel.

Typically coinciding with the time I need an artistic break from video editing, my hunger will lead me back to the fridge. A quick pour, a chug, and I’m back to full strength.

No time wasted on an internal debate on what will soothe my palate — there’s just one quick solution. Then I’m back to full strength and ready to continue on. Historically that whole process would take me an hour between prep, eating, and clean up.

However, my runs are still suffering. This could be from the increased workload this week, but it’s not enough of an increase to justify the trouble. I feel like I’m not recovering properly — my legs still feel “brick-ish” and really stale. It’s different from being fatigued due to exertion. This feels like what it is — a lack of something in my system.

Do I need to add something such as extra protein or salt?

Day 14

I’m shocked at Soylent’s ability to provide enough nutrients for me while I exercise, which this week is about 60 miles of running.

I live near the famous Natchez Trace Parkway, one of the prettiest running routes in Tennessee. I take it directly to one of my favorite running trails at Percy Warner Park. Since I go to the park so often, my frugal self decided to cut down on gas expenses. So, instead of driving, I’ve started riding my bike to Percy Warner Park. It is about 12 very hilly miles each way.

I made it to the park today smoothly, then jumped straight into a six-mile tempo run (a tempo run is basically a race by yourself). In hindsight, this was a bad idea. The run didn’t go too well. Plus, my bike ride to the park was net downhill by a good amount, and the ride home totally zapped me. I almost had to walk my bike a few times on the way back.

After nearly three hours of exercise in the sun, I was spent. I started pounding Soylent when I got back — to the point of almost having a stomach ache. I knew I needed to take in a lot to refuel from this one.

Overall, pretty successful, fun day.

Day 15

Halfway! Big mental boost. Sorta.

Two weeks felt like two years. And two more weeks seems like an eternity. However, based on feedback from readers after the first week’s posts, I may consider adding protein to my shakes moving forward. It seems this could help in recovery on runs, which will help in eliminating this “brick” feeling in my legs.

My realization this week: routine and distraction creates demand for this product. For the busy bee, Soylent proves awfully useful. I had a limited window for work this week, and I needed to maximize my time. Soylent helped me achieve this.

We’ve gotten a lot closer in 2 weeks

How I feel

Building on my thoughts from last week, this experiment has revealed a great truth about the concept of food — it creates a beautiful slowdown to life.

I’m taken back to an article I read a few years ago written by a female nurse who worked in a hospice. It was called Regrets of Dying. In her patients’ final weeks of life, these souls honed in on profound wisdom. This quote stuck with me most:

“All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

At the time, this striking conclusion shifted my paradigm for how we should live our short lives here on earth. Since then I forgot this meaningful truth, but this experiment has brought me back around to it.

Soylent’s sole purpose is efficiency. I can appreciate that. Like I said, it’s been useful. But for me, maybe for most, the implementation of Soylent most likely hints at an ensuing lifestyle of overwhelming work… whether we realize it or not. The process of eating solid food creates space, breathing, and slowness. It creates perspective.

We may have opportunities to be faster, better, and more productive. But again, is it worth the cost? Is it worth the tunnel vision of working to miss out on taking a few minutes to chew your sandwich and appreciate the blowing leaves in the wind?

Some of you might not be able to relate, but I just moved into a serene ‘cabin-in-the-woods’ in the outskirts of Nashville,and the beauty is unparalleled to anywhere I have lived. I have a short lease here, and it is flying by.

In the midst of busy days of working from home, I don’t want to miss the endless beauty right outside my front door. I don’t want to miss my lovely wife and my family. I don’t want to be trapped in efficiency’s never-ending lure that might tempt me to miss all that is around me in this very moment.

If I had been tracking my pretentious philosophical tendencies, I’d be at a 10 right now. I’m exhausted from the deep thought. Time to start drinkin’. Goodnight.


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